What is the Age of Majority in BC?

In the province of British Columbia, just like in other provinces, the age of majority determines when an individual is recognized as a legal adult.

It is the age of a person capable of making important decisions and engaging in various activities without parental or guardian consent.

Whether you’re a curious teenager, a concerned parent, or simply someone interested in understanding the laws and regulations surrounding adulthood in British Columbia, this article is for you.

Here I explain the age of majority in British Columbia and how it empowers individuals to take control of their lives and become active participants in society. 

Let’s get started!

Understanding Age of Majority

The age of majority is a legal term that defines the year at which an individual is considered an adult, capable of taking responsibility for their actions and making independent decisions. 

It is the age at which a person has certain rights and privileges and assumes certain responsibilities under the law.

The specific age can vary from country to country and even within different regions or jurisdictions. In many countries, including Canada, the age of majority is typically set between 18 and 19 years.

When a person reaches the age of majority, they are legally recognized as an adult and are entitled to exercise certain rights, such as: 

  • Voting
  • Entering into contracts
  • Getting married 
  • Making autonomous decisions about various aspects of their lives, including healthcare, education, and finances

They are also subject to the corresponding responsibilities and obligations that come with adulthood, such as being held accountable for their actions and complying with the law.

Understanding the age of majority in your specific jurisdiction is essential to navigating legal matters and exercising your rights as an adult.

What is the Age of Majority in BC?

According to the BC Age of Majority Act, “A person attains the age of majority on attaining the age of 19“.

Before April 15, 1970, the age of majority in British Columbia was 21 years.

BC was the first Canadian province to change its age of majority. The following provinces and territories also have the same age of majority as BC: 

  • Nunavut
  • Yukon Territories
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • North West Territories

It is important to note that until the age of majority is reached, individuals are still considered minors and may have limitations on certain activities and decision-making.

What Does Reaching Age of Majority Mean in BC? 

When someone in BC reaches 19 years old, they are legally recognized as an adult and gain certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities.

Here are some of the things a person can do when they reach 19 years of age in BC:

  • Buy lottery tickets
  • Buy cigarettes
  • Drink alcohol 
  • Sue or be sued on your own
  • Change name without parent’s permission
  • Join the forces without parental consent
  • Leave home without parent’s permission
  • Get a credit card in BC
  • Adopt a pet from SPCA
  • Get a driver’s license without parent permission

It is important to note that with the rights and privileges of adulthood also come responsibilities. Individuals must understand and adhere to the laws and regulations that govern their actions as adults in British Columbia.

What Does Age of Majority Means For Parents & Guardians in BC? 

The age of majority in British Columbia has implications not only for individuals reaching adulthood but also for their parents or guardians

Here’s what the age of majority means for parents and guardians in BC:

  • Parental Authority Ends: When a child reaches the age of majority (19yo), parents and guardians no longer have legal authority over them. The child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law and is granted autonomy to make their own decisions without requiring parental consent.
  • Financial Support: Parents and guardians are generally not obligated to provide financial support to their children once they reach the age. However, this can vary depending on individual circumstances, such as court orders or specific agreements regarding ongoing support.
  • Legal Responsibility: Parents and guardians are no longer legally responsible for the actions of their children once they reach the age of majority. This means that parents cannot be held legally liable for their adult child’s debts, contracts, or other legal obligations.
  • Transition Period: As children approach the age of majority, parents and guardians need to help prepare them for the responsibilities and challenges of adulthood. This may include discussing financial management, educational and career choices, and general life skills necessary for independent living.
  • Continued Support: While parental authority may cease, parents and guardians can continue to provide emotional support, guidance, and advice to their adult children. Parental involvement can be important during this transitional period as young adults navigate new responsibilities and make important decisions.
  • Legal Relationships: Parents and guardians may need to adjust legal relationships with their adult child once they reach the age of majority. For instance, if a parent has been appointed as a legal guardian for medical or financial matters, those arrangements may need to be reviewed and potentially modified.

Age of Majority vs Legal Age:

The terms “age of majority” and “legal age” are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two concepts.

The age refers to the specific age at which an individual is considered a legal adult and gains certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities. 

In British Columbia, the age of majority is 19 years. 

Once someone reaches this age, they are recognized by law as fully independent and capable of making their own decisions without requiring parental or guardian consent.

What’s the Difference?

On the other hand, the term “legal age” is a broader term that encompasses various age-related laws and regulations. 

It refers to the specific ages set by the law for specific activities or restrictions. For example, the legal age for getting a driving license, getting married, leaving school, and running for an election differs from the age of majority in BC. 

The following table shows the rights and responsibilities of various legal ages in BC.

Legal AgeRight / Responsibility
5-Attend school
12-Able to work with parent or guardian consent 
-Consent needed for adoption
-Name change with parent’s permission
-Age of consent if a partner is below 2 years old
-Responsible for crime
14-Can donate organs/tissues for medical purposes
-Can be sentenced for crimes under adult law
-Age of consent if a partner is below the age of 5 
16-Age of consent
-Leave school 
-Get a driver’s license with parent’s permission
-Apply for own passport
-Able to write a will
-Marry with parent’s permission
-Work without consent of parent/guardian
17-Able to donate blood
-Join the armed forces with parental consent
18-Entitled to full minimum wage
-Vote and be voted for -See restricted/adult movies

As you can see, the right and responsibilities under the legal age differ from the right and responsibilities under the age of majority highlighted earlier.

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Final Thoughts

The age of majority in British Columbia represents a significant turning point in an individual’s life. 

This transition empowers individuals with rights, privileges, and responsibilities to actively participate in society.

However, with these newfound rights come responsibilities. Adults in BC are held accountable for their actions and must comply with the laws and regulations that govern society. 

Understanding and respecting these legal obligations is crucial to ensure a smooth transition into adulthood.

For parents and guardians, the age of majority signifies a shift in the dynamics of their relationship with their children. 

While their legal authority diminishes, the role of providing emotional support and guidance remains essential during this transitional period.

Overall, the age of majority in British Columbia marks an important milestone, representing a gateway to independence and personal growth. 

Age of Majority in BC: FAQs

When did the legal age become 19 in BC?

The legal age of 19 in British Columbia has been in effect since April 15, 1970. The specific legislation that established the age of majority in BC is the Age of Majority Act, which was initially enacted in 1970. 

Who is considered a minor in BC?

In British Columbia, a minor refers to an individual who has not yet reached 19 years old. Therefore, anyone under the age of 19 is considered a minor in the province.

What is the legal age to stay home alone in BC?

There is no specific legally mandated minimum age for leaving a child alone in BC. However, the BC Supreme Court requires that children below 10 years of age should not be left alone at home. 

Can I live on my own at 16 in BC?

Yes, you can decide to live alone when you turn 16 in BC. But until you reach the age of 19, your parent or guardian has a legal responsibility to provide financial support for your well-being.

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About John Adebisi

John Adebisi is a CPA, FCCA and MBA holder with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting & Finance. He has over a decade of experience in writing personal and business finance content for audiences across North America, Europe, the UK and Africa. In addition to his writing experience, he also has a strong background in financial research and analysis, giving him a unique perspective of the financial markets. John derives pleasure in helping people make smart financial decisions, and he believes that knowledge and experience can be valuable resources for anyone who wants to learn how to manage their money.

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